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A record 60,000 Android apps were removed from Google’s Play app store in one month this February, prior to Google’s relaunch of its Android store this week.

Google would not comment on the reasons for the deletions – or on how many apps were removed, rather than deleted by their own publishers – but categories such as personalisation (ringtone apps) were targeted heavily, with 12,277 deletions.

Gadget site TechCrunch said that this tallied with a purge on malicious and spammy apps in Google Store, “The ringtone category often includes less-than-reputable publishers, to put it kindly,” said the site.

Historically, Google has removed apps that violate Android’s Terms of Service, including apps with repetitive or misleading descriptions, apps which have been created by “automated tools or wizards” or apps which send messages such as SMS texts on behalf of the users.

In ESET’s 2013 Trends Report, analysts predicted “exponential growth” in mobile malware this year.

“Based on the combination of increased market share, evolving usage patterns, and the current high level of malicious programs targeting mobile devices, ESET predicts an exponential growth of mobile malware in 2013. The company also believes that the malware will become more complex, thus expanding the range of malicious actions that can be performed on an infected device. ,” the report said.

Earlier this month, security blogger Brian Krebs said that a growing black market in Google Developer accounts – sold for $100 apiece – was helping drive the rise of spammy apps.
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